It was clear that the owners of Thai Lotus had invested a lot of time when designing the space because I felt as if I was transported to Thailand by the cozy space decorated with tasteful and exotic trinkets.
After receiving a playful amuse bouche of celery and carrots in a chilled wine glass with a side of peanut sauce, our next interaction with our server left us feeling that she was sassy and did not seem concerned or interested in any questions that we had about the menu. Instead she was quick to judge what we “white people” would order. Regardless if Thai Lotus caters to “white people’s taste,” I thought it was a slightly amusing yet unprofessional confession.
After getting over that first bump in service, we continued looking at the menu and noticed that it offered a legend letting us know what the spice levels were and what indicated a heart healthy option. It was intriguing to note that there was only one item on the menu that lived up to the heart healthy option – I wish I remembered what it was! Why even bother having this category highlighted on the menu?
We ended up ordering the po pia sod, or as “white people” say – fresh spring rolls. These rolls were stuffed with iceberg lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts, herbs, rice noodles, a tiny bit of shredded chicken, and shrimp. It was served with three sauces: peanut sauce, cucumber vinegar, and a sweet soy sauce that traditionally would be accompanied with chili flakes, but, yes, you guessed it, the chili flakes were missing. All in all, the rolls lacked flavor because they were packed mostly with iceberg lettuce. We smothered the rolls with the dipping sauces to provide some taste. My guest and I were disappointed with this selection.
Our server started to warm up to my guest and me when we requested an order of red curry (gaeng dange) and massaman curry (gaeng massaman) that came with basmati rice. The red curry was comprised of a red chili paste cooked in coconut milk, combined with bell peppers, zucchini, thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, and Thai basil. The dish did not taste up to par, but did not stand out as super fresh. In fact, it tasted Costco fresh. My guest reflects on the red curry dish by noting, “The meal was ok.” It came out lukewarm and the chicken was overcooked. The dish was not spicy at all and lacked flavor. I used quite a bit of soy sauce to get me through this dish. It was good enough to eat, but nothing I would order again. I had enough for left overs and finished up the dish the next night. Oddly enough, it was tastier after reheating it. Maybe because it was hot this time?
The massaman curry, a commonly ordered dish, was made with curry, coconut milk, and potato chunks sprinkled with roasted peanuts. It was a disappointment because it was basically coconut milk diluted with water. Where was the flavor? The spice? For me, the “mild” actually ought to have been described as “no spice”. “Medium” should be considered “almost mild” and who knows about “very hot”, because we unfortunately didn’t order anything with this option. I regret not asking the server to calibrate the spice level to my liking. Beyond my issue with the spice, there was an issue with the chicken, which was a bit on the dry side. Yet it was surprising how Thai Lotus offered up chunks of chicken – not tiny strips as typically prepared in Thai restaurants. I haven’t experienced servings of chicken like this at any Thai establishment since I was in Thailand. Kudos for Thai Lotus for making that aspect authentic. Too bad they didn’t stick to their guns and make the entire dish as their family would have enjoyed it. I also appreciated how the potatoes were prepared with a decorative cutting.
Our meal ended on a sweet note with a small taste of tapioca pudding made with coconut milk and corn kernels. It was a nice little offering that came by surprise! The sweet yellow corn added to the texture of the dessert and was the best part of our meal.
The only downers about the setting itself were a cart in front of the women’s bathroom that had to be pushed out of the way when navigating the path to the bathroom and a bathroom note that read, “hold down handle until toilet flushes completely.” Restaurants kill me when they post instructional signage like that. It makes me think, “It might be time to get some plumbing done.” Take care of your guests!
By the end of our meal our server change her tone completely after she found out we were there to write about our experience. She did a 180 in her service and became overly friendly – to the point that she engaged in a lengthy conversation about Thai people and showered us with gifts of coasters, incense holders and ceramic jars claiming it was customary for all customers. I got the strong impression that it was not customary and that she was trying to backpedal on her service.
Rating – I would be willing to return to give Thai Lotus the benefit of the doubt and try another entree option, such as a salad, tom yum kai soup, pad se ew, or pad thai before making a final judgment.
Edited by SELF